Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION I.: HISTORY OF THE TEXT; AND THE DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS OF IT WHICH HAVE BEEN PROPOSED. - The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean)
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SECTION I.: HISTORY OF THE TEXT; AND THE DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS OF IT WHICH HAVE BEEN PROPOSED. - Confucius, The Chinese Classics: Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius (Analects, Great Learning, Doctrine of the Mean) 
The Chinese Classics: Translated into English with Preliminary Essays and Explanatory Notes by James Legge. Vol. 1. The Life and Teachings of Confucius. Second Edition (London: N. Trübner, 1869).
Part of: The Chinese Classics
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HISTORY OF THE TEXT; AND THE DIFFERENT ARRANGEMENTS OF IT WHICH HAVE BEEN PROPOSED.
1.It has already been mentioned that “The Great Learning” forms one of the chapters of the Le Ke, or “Record of Rites,” the formation of the text of which will be treated of in its proper place. I will only say here that the Book, or Books, of Rites had suffered much more, after the death of Confucius, than the other ancient Classics. They were in a more dilapidated condition at the time of the revival of the ancient literature under the Han dynasty, and were then published in three collections, only one of which—the Record of Rites—retains its place among the King.
The Record of Rites consists, according to the current arrangement, of 49 chapters or Books. Lew Heang (see ch. I. sect. II. 2) took the lead in its formation, and was followed by the two famous scholars, Tae Tih, and his relative, Tae Shing. The first of these reduced upwards of 200 chapters, collected by Heang, to 89, and Shing reduced these again to 46. The three other Books were added in the second century of our era, The Great Learning being one of them, by Ma Yung, mentioned in the last chaper, section III. 2. Since his time, the Work has not received any further additions.
2. In his note appended to what he calls the chapter of “Classical Text,” Choo He says that the tablets of the “old copies” of the rest of The Great Learning were considerably out of order. By those old copies, he intends the Work of Ch‘ing Heuen, who published his commentary on the Classic, soon after it was completed by the additions of Ma Yung; and it is possible that the tablets were in confusion, and had not been arranged with sufficient care; but such a thing does not appear to have been suspected until the 12th century; nor can any authority from ancient monuments be adduced in its support.
I have related how the ancient Classics were cut on slabs of stone by imperial order, ad 175, the text being that which the various literati had determined, and which had been adopted by Ch‘ing Heuen. The same work was performed about seventy years later, under the so-called dynasty of Wei, between the years 240 and 248, and the two sets of slabs were set up together. The only difference between them was, that whereas the Classics had been cut in the first instance in three different forms, called the Seal character, the Pattern style, and the Imperfect form, there was substituted for the latter in the slabs of Wei the oldest form of the characters, similar to that which has been described in connection with the discovery of the old Lun Yu in the wall of Confucius’ house. Amid the changes of dynasties, the slabs both of Han and Wei had perished before the rise of the T‘ang dynasty, ad 624; but under one of its emperors, in the year 836, a copy of the Classics was again cut on stone, though only in one form of the character. These slabs we can trace down through the Sung dynasty when they were known as the tablets of Shen. They were in exact conformity with the text of the Classics adopted by Ch‘ing Heuen in his commentaries.
The Sung dynasty did not accomplish a similar work itself, nor has any one of the three which have followed it thought it necessary to engrave in stone in this way the ancient classics. About the middle of the 16th century, however, the literary world in China was startled by a report that the slabs of Wei which contained The Great Learning had been discovered. But this was nothing more than the result of an impudent attempt at an imposition, for which it is difficult to a foreigner to assign any adequate cause. The treatise, as printed from these slabs, has some trifling additions, and many alterations in the order of the text, but differing from the arrangements proposed by Choo He, and by other scholars. There seems to be now no difference of opinion among Chinese critics that the whole affair was a forgery. The text of The Great Learning, as it appears in the Book of Rites with the commentary of Ch‘ing Heuen, and was thrice engraved on stone, in three different dynasties, is, no doubt, that which was edited in the Han dynasty by Ma Yung.
3. I have said that it is possible that the tablets containing the text were not arranged with sufficient care by him, and, indeed, any one who studies the treatise attentively will probably come to the conclusion that the part of it forming the first six chapters of Commentary in the present Work is but a fragment. It would not be a difficult task to propose an arrangement of the text different from any which I have yet seen; but such an undertaking would not be interesting out of China. My object here is simply to mention the Chinese scholars who have rendered themselves famous or notorious in their own country, by what they have done in this way. The first was Ch‘ing Haou, a native of Lohyang in Ho-nan province, in the 11th century. His designation was Pih-shun, but since his death he has been known chiefly by the style of Ming-taou, which we may render the Wise-in-doctrine. The eulogies heaped on him by Choo He and others are extravagant, and he is placed immediately after Mencius in the list of great scholars. Doubtless he was a man of vast literary acquirements. The greatest change which he introduced into The Great Learning, was to read sin for ts‘in, at the commencement, making the second object proposed in the treatise to be the renovation of the people, instead of loving them. This alteration and his various transpositions of the text are found in Maou Se-ho’s treatise on “The attested text of The Great Learning.”
Hardly less illustrious than Ch‘ing Haou was his younger brother Ch‘ing E, known by the style of Ching-shuh, and since his death by that of E-ch‘uen. He followed Haou in the adoption of the reading “to renovate,” instead of “to love.” But he transposed the text differently, more akin to the arrangement afterwards made by Choo He, suggesting also that there were some superfluous sentences in the old text which might conveniently be erased. The Work, as proposed to be read by him, will be found in the volume of Maou just referred to.
We come to the name of Choo He who entered into the labours of the brothers Ch‘ing, the younger of whom he styles his Master, in his introductory note to The Great Learning. His arrangement of the text is that now current in all the editions of the Four Books, and it had nearly displaced the ancient text altogether. The sanction of Imperial approval was given to it during the Yuen and Ming dynasties. In the editions of the five King published by them, only the names of the Doctrine of the Mean and The Great Learning were preserved. No text of these Books was given, and Se-ho tells us, that in the reign of Kea-tsing, the most flourishing period of the Ming dynasty (ad 1522—1566), when a Wang Wăn-shing published a copy of The Great Learning, taken from the T‘ang edition of the Thirteen King, all the officers and scholars looked at one another in astonishment, and were inclined to suppose that the Work was a forgery. Besides adopting the reading of sin for ts‘in from the Ch‘ing, and modifying their arrangements of the text, Choo He made other innovations. He first divided the whole into one chapter of Classical text, which he assigned to Confucius, and ten chapters of Commentary, which he assigned to the disciple Tsăng. Previous to him, the whole had been published, indeed, without any specification of chapters and paragraphs. He undertook, moreover, to supply one whole chapter, which he supposed, after his master Ch‘ing, to be missing.
Since the time of Choo He, many scholars have exercised their wit on The Great Learning. The Work of Maou Se-ho contains four arrangements of the text, proposed respectively by the scholars Wang Loo-chae, Ke P‘ang-san, Kaon King-yih, and Kŏ Hoo-chen. The curious student may examine them there.
Under the present dynasty, the tendency has been to depreciate the labours of Choo He. The integrity of the text of Ch‘ing Heuen is zealously maintained, and the simpler method of interpretation employed by him is advocated in preference to the more refined and ingenious schemes of the Sung scholars. I have referred several times in the notes to a Work published a few years ago, under the title of “The Old Text of the sacred King, with Commentary and Discussions, by Lo Chung-fan of Nan-hae.” I knew the man seventeen years ago. He was a fine scholar, and had taken the second degree, or that of Keu-jin. He applied to me in 1843 for Christian baptism, and offended by my hesitancy went and enrolled himself among the disciples of another Missionary. He soon, however, withdrew into seclusion, and spent the last years of his life in literary studies. His family have published the work on The Great Learning, and one or two others. He most vehemently impugns nearly every judgment of Choo He: but in his own exhibitions of the meaning he blends many ideas of the Supreme Being and of the condition of human nature, which he had learned from the Christian Scriptures.